Archbishop Foley Beach’s Lent Message – Sins of Neglect

February 19, 2015

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach has a very good and challenging Lent message, focused on the theme of sins of neglect, sins of omission.  As you read it, prayerfully take some time for self-examination.  Here’s a key excerpt:

This year as you prayerfully examine your own life during Lent, I want to encourage you to look for your sins of neglect.  What are your sins of omission?  “What is God asking me to do which I am refusing to do?”

Am I neglecting my time alone with God?
Am I neglecting feeding the poor?
Am I neglecting speaking out against evil?
Am I neglecting teaching my children about my faith in Jesus?
Am I neglecting taking care of my body?
Am I neglecting praying for and loving my enemies?
Am I neglecting returning to the Lord His portion of my earnings?
Am I neglecting caring for those in pain around me?
Am I neglecting time with my spouse?

The list could go on and on. You get the point: What are my sins of neglect of which I need to repent?

In trying to deal with my sins of neglect, I have noticed two issues which seem to arise.  Firstly, to repent of these sins costs me time.  They usually take time to accomplish, which means that if I am going to follow God’s leading and repent, then I am going to have to stop doing something that I am currently doing in order to make time for it.  To minister to the needy means I have to give up time doing something else.  To spend more time studying the Scriptures means I am going to have to give up time doing something else.

Secondly, I have noticed that, more often than not, I am blinded to my sins of neglect.  It takes someone else, a sermon, the Scriptures, a book, or a friend to point them out to me.  I am afraid this is a pattern for most of us. We don’t think we have an issue, and then the Holy Spirit convicts us and brings it to our attention.  Because they are usually blind spots, this means we are used to living with them; they are comfortable in our lives.  To repent will make us uneasy and it is often difficult!  We have to be intentional, and oftentimes, we need someone to hold us accountable.

Here’s the full entry


Bp. John Guernsey – Praying for Persecuted Christians in Lent AND Praying for the Terrorists who persecute them

February 19, 2015

Bishop John Guernsey of the ACNA Mid-Atlantic Diocese has written a Lenten letter calling for sacrificial prayer for persecuted believers around the world.  In a startling twist however, he is ALSO urging believers to pray for the terrorists who persecute them, and he has linked to a very helpful resource to help us pray, as well as providing some suggested ways of praying.

This Lenten season is a time of renewal of our spiritual disciplines of prayer, reading and studying Scripture, fasting, sacrificial giving of our money and our time for the sake of others.

Especially during this season, would you commit to making prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters a central part of your devotions? Would you pray more earnestly for their witness and for their deliverance? Would you pray for God to turn even these acts of evil for his Kingdom purposes?

And would you pray for the terrorists themselves to repent and turn to Christ? Did you know there’s even a website where you can find profiles of terrorists so you can adopt one and commit to pray for him to repent and come to Christ. It’s Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer.

The site offers insightful suggestions as to how to pray for a terrorist. I’m praying for Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, to repent and turn to Christ. So I’m using the Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer guide to intercede for him, praying…

  • for irresistible pursuit by God’s Spirit: “Holy Spirit, relentlessly pursue Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to the depths of his hideout, that he may not escape your grace.”
  • for powerful demonstrations of God’s grace: “Lord, expose Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to the precious testimony of Jesus’ followers.”
  • for vulnerability: “Dear God, strip from Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi all his defenses that he may turn to Jesus for hope and salvation.”
  • for conviction of sin and sense of shame: “Jesus, confront and overwhelm Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi with his shameful deeds and sinful nature till he becomes desperate for righteousness from you.”
  • for God’s honor: “God, may the redemption of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi clearly display your character and glory.”
  • against spiritual blindness and bondage: “Lord, release Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi from Satan’s grip and open him to sense and know your grace in Jesus.”

Our God is mighty to save. Let’s cry out to him this Lent (and beyond!) for justice for his precious children.

From here

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Update:  Just after I posted this, I recalled that I had seen a link earlier this week to a post at Desiring God about praying for our enemies.  I went and dug it up.  It’s a very challenging article by John Piper:  Pray for those who abuse you.  It’s worth prayerful reading, and it makes a powerful double punch when combined with Bp. Guernsey’s letter.


Bishop Julian Dobbs – Lent Bible Study Video series on Vimeo

February 19, 2015

Thanks to a link posted by Pat Dague at Incline Your Heart, I just discovered that Bishop Julian Dobbs of the ACNA is posting a Lenten Bible Study Series on Vimeo:  “What Happens After We Die”

Here’s how the Rev. Matt Kennedy at Church of the Good Shepherd described the series:

Bishop Dobbs has begun a Lenten video teaching series entitled: “What Happens After We Die”. In it he will discuss death, Hell, Heaven, and the Resurrection. The first video deals with the biblical concept of “Hades”. The series is expositional, grounded in the Scriptures, so you’ll need your Bible as you watch and listen.

Here’s the link to Bishop Dobbs’ Vimeo page so you can watch all the episodes.


Lent activities for children and families – favorite links

February 19, 2015

I regret that I’ve had little time to be able to dig for new resources to recommend for children / families or Sunday School lessons during Lent.  We always have MANY visitors to our blog looking for those.  This year, I’ve just not had the time to put together any new resource compilations for family activities.

But here are a few old favorites, which I’ve checked to make sure the links are still working:

From Catechist’s Journey – an excellent Roman Catholic site:

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Fridge Art:  Family Activities for celebrating Lent & Easter

Fridge Art:  The Lenten Cross – a Lenten version of a “Jesse Tree” with a reading and a symbol for each day of Lent.

There is also a shorter similar 12-day activity – “The Easter Tree” from the FridgeArt site.

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Christine Sine at Godspace has put together a good compilation of Lent links for 2015, including a number of compilations for children & families:

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From here at Lent & Beyond:  one of our most popular posts of all-time is from 2010

Lent and Ash Wednesday Activity Ideas for Families

also, our 2014 entry: Resources for Celebrating Holy Week with Kids

Our Lent: Children & Families category has more links

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As always, we invite our readers to share your favorite links & resources in the comments, thanks!


Anglican Mainstream’s Lent Meditations for 2015

February 19, 2015

Yesterday I did not know for sure whether Anglican Mainstream would be posting daily Lent reflections this year.

The answer is YES they are…

Here’s the link

Here’s an excerpt from today’s entry for Feb. 19:

Lent is an opportunity to consider the truth of the Gospel as rooted in the Cross of Christ, (which is not necessarily a popular message). The idea that we are called to give up ourselves, our own will and power, is a message that goes against the Gospel of the culture. Lent is a season to learn through the spiritual disciplines that to die to self and the world, and to live our life in the fullness of God is a witness to a broken and needy world.

PRAYER OF THE DAY: Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, You have suffered death on the Cross for our sins. Oh, Holy Cross of Jesus, be my true light! Oh, Holy Cross, fill my soul with good thoughts.
Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all things that are evil. Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all dangers and deaths and give me life everlasting! Oh, Crucified Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me now and forever.

ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE:  “Since we are bound to abhor any deception which hides the truth from our sight, we must of necessity repudiate any direct relationship with the things of this world–and that for the sake of Christ. Wherever a group, be it large or small, prevents us from standing alone before Christ, wherever such a group raises a claim of immediacy it must be hated for the sake of Christ. For every immediacy, whether we realize it or not, means hatred of Christ, and this is especially true where such relationships claim the sanctions of Christian principles.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from “The Cost of Discipleship.


Lent – A removal of the buzzing bright lights…

February 19, 2015

A nice description of one of the ways Lent can benefit our spiritual lives, from yesterday’s Lent devotional at the Biola Lent project site:

Lent strips away the excess and turns down the volume on our over-mediation [i.e. media obsession / over-stimulation]. It’s a period of time that beckons us to simpler, almost minimalist existence—a removal of the buzzing bright lights that draw our eyes in a hundred different directions, allowing us to see more clearly the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As we deny ourselves, as we quiet our hearts and focus our busy minds, we identify with Christ in the desert, Christ in Gethsemane, Christ on the cross. This is all a preparation to exalt in the blinding bright hope of Christ the Resurrected. In a manner similar to what the Sabbath does for us on a weekly basis, Lent is a set-aside period of time to withdraw from an unrelenting pace and pause to reflect, rejoice, lament, anticipate. If we want to see more clearly, we must embrace seasons of focus like this.

The devotional closed with this prayer:

PRAYER

Lord, bring us to our knees.  Quiet our hearts.Away from the onslaught of screens and  tweets and texts, focus our eyes on you.  Abide in our perceptions, as we taste and see and hear that you are good.  Remove us from ourselves.  Help us to dismiss our notions of grandeur and relinquish our litany of self-appointed rights: that we deserve jobs, comfort and cappuccinos; that our social updates deserve to be paid attention to; that the world revolves around us; that we can do with our bodies what we fancy; that the chief end of life is our own individual happiness.  Remove us from ourselves Lord, and draw us closer to You.  In the darkness, in the desert, in the endless debates, let us look to resurrection.  Let us see the rising sun. Amen.

Brett McCracken, Managing Editor, Biola Magazine


A Lenten Focus on Grace-Filled Obedience – Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Exhortation

February 19, 2015

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina is such a gift to the Church!  So often pastoral letters he has written, or talks he has given have encouraged and challenged me deeply.

So it is this morning as I read Bishop Mark Lawrence’s pastoral letter for Lent 2015.   In his letter he asks this question:

If grace-filled obe­di­ence not self-imposed depri­va­tion is the path­way to God’s bless­ing shouldn’t one’s Lenten dis­ci­pline focus on this?

For me that really crystallized a way of defining the Lenten disciplines I have chosen.  More about obedience than deprivation.  But I didn’t have an easy way or phrase in my mind to describe it.  Now I do.  Grace-filled obedience.  Amen.

Here’s part of the larger context of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s letter

This Ash Wednes­day morn­ing … these words from Pro­fes­sor J. Alec Motyer’s com­men­tary on the prophecy of Isa­iah .. leapt off the page and brought my rest­less mind to a sud­den pause.

“The Lord is more con­cerned with the enjoy­ment of his bless­ings through obe­di­ence to His com­mands than in self-imposed deprivations.”

These words came as if they were a prophetic word to my soul as I was prayer­fully con­sid­er­ing what dis­ci­plines to embrace this Lent. It wasn’t lost on me that Pro­fes­sor Motyer’s words were com­men­tary on Isa­iah 58 where the prophet spoke of the fast God chooses for his peo­ple: break­ing the bonds of oppres­sion, shar­ing bread with the hun­gry, car­ing for the home­less, cloth­ing the naked, and nur­tur­ing one’s own fam­ily. How might this apply for us here in South Car­olina? For our broth­ers and sis­ters in Christ in Egypt, Nige­ria, Kenya, Sudan and else­where around the world?

This was not the only word that resounded on this Ash Wednes­day morn­ing on this 2015th year of our Lord. There were oth­ers as well. Another was this open­ing para­graph from a homily by St. John Chrysos­tom expound­ing First Corinthi­ans 1:1–3: ‘See how imme­di­ately, from the very begin­ning, he [Paul] casts down their pride, and dashes to the ground all their fond imag­i­na­tion, in that he speaks of him­self as “called.” For what I have learnt, saith he, I dis­cov­ered not myself, nor acquired by my own wis­dom, but while I was per­se­cut­ing and lay­ing waste the Church I was called. Now here of Him that cal­leth is every­thing; of him that is called, noth­ing (so to speak,) but only to obey.’

Then there was this word, spo­ken orig­i­nally to John Ort­berg by Dal­las Willard, and quoted in his book Soul Keep­ing: “Hurry is the great enemy of spir­i­tual life in our day. You must ruth­lessly elim­i­nate hurry from your life.”

What do all these words read this day and res­onat­ing in my ears have to do with my obser­vance of holy Lent? This I believe:

If grace-filled obe­di­ence not self-imposed depri­va­tion is the path­way to God’s bless­ing shouldn’t one’s Lenten dis­ci­pline focus on this?

If God’s call, not the dri­ven life, is for each of us our apos­tolic mis­sion shouldn’t that be the place out of which we live our lives and do our work and ministry?

If we are dust and to dust we shall return (as the words of the Ash Wednes­day liturgy reminds us) why am I, and so many of us, in such a hurry?

I encourage you to read and reflect on Bishop Lawrence’s entire letter.

 


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